Being told our actions are not okay is a healthy reminder
We learn early in life that some things are not okay to say or do. Personally, I got a few butt swats to remind me to stay in line in my youth. Whatever I did or said was not okay. We need reminding from time to time.
Adam Schiff, Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, rose to the occasion this past week. He reminded his colleagues that some things were not okay, at least by his standards, and needed further investigation.
Representative Schiff is known to be serious, stoic, even understated. His speech on March 29thcaught a lot of attention because it pointedly accused the Trump administration’s actions of being immoral, unethical, unpatriotic, corrupt, and evidence of collusion leading to compromise. He further declared:
I don’t think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay. The day we think it’s okay and the day we think it’s okay is the day we will look back and say that was the day when America lost its way.
We risk our ethics by our thoughts and actions
Some may set this speech aside as yet another partisan rant. It may seem to ring hollow and not really be much of a threat, much less a warning.
Jon Meacham addresses our sense of standards and reasoning and emotional responses, noting how our actions are governed. His article in Time Magazine, “Mueller offers a lesson in the power of reason”, puts our collective reason as:
…we tend to assess events not in the light of reason but with the flames of partisan passion. What we make of a given moment is governed less by merits and details and more by the mores and demands of our particular political tribe.
Meacham goes on to quote Jane Addams, sometimes referred to as the mother of social work:
We know instinctively that if we grow contemptuous of our fellows, and consciously limit our intercourse to certain kinds of people whom we have previously decided to respect, we not only tremendously circumscribe our range of life, but limit the scope of our ethics.
It is not okay to be incurious
As I write this weekly blog, focusing on the mechanics of how we elect our national president, I’m struck by what elements affect our decisions. I’m surprised to find how limited is the curiosity, exhibited by legislators and citizens alike, as to how our votes matter or don’t. It’s appalling to find how little concern is expressed when they’re told that millions of votes in every election year go unnoticed – that is, unrepresented. They don’t matter! Yet, few respond with questions of, “How this might be?” or “Why is this permitted?”
NPV is not okay
Let me give you a current example. The National Popular Vote (NPV) is a compact of states and Washington, D.C. These jurisdictions, collectively, can assure that the candidate winning a plurality of the nation’s popular vote wins the election, if and when the compact is enacted. Some think it’s okay not to give voters representation in the Electoral College. Some think it’s okay not to respect state lines (they effectively disappear when the compact is enacted) and a state’s voting voice.
It’s not okay!
NPV fails to fix a problem
While NPV may sound promising and seems to address a flaw in our election process, it fails to address the underlying concern. The problem and frustrations we currently experience is due to the winner-takes-all aspect of the voting mechanism. It disenfranchises large blocs of voters in every state. NPV does NOT remove this aspect.
The jurisdictions already involved with the compact set aside over 20 million votes, giving none of them representation in the Electoral College in 2016. Since NPV removes neither the winner-takes-all aspect nor the Electoral College, the scenario just described would have been the same for those states if NPV were in place in 2016.
Using some conjecture it is conceivable that if Trump had won the popular vote in 2016 and the aforementioned NPV compact was in effect, those jurisdictions would not have represented more than 30 million votes. NPV does not fix the voting mechanism.
The Electoral College was established to accomplish two basic things on the way to electing a president: 1) give representation to a state’s popular votes, and 2) ensure each state has a proportional voting representation. It does so because we live in a Constitutional Republic. It’s vital that our voting mechanism for this high office meet these standards.
It’s not okay if we fail to do so. (See A Ridiculous, Radical, and Dangerous Voting Option.)
Equal Voice Voting makes our votes matter
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) meets these standards. It ensures every vote makes a difference and every state a proportional representation. EVV requires neither a constitutional amendment nor an interstate compact. Each state can enact this approach to ensure it’s place in the election and that all constituents are heard.
It’s not okay to be incurious about a matter that means so much. If you are, is it the numbers? Were you incurious in math class, too?
It’s not okay to suppress votes from those who don’t think and feel like we do. If you think it is, do you have a lack of empathy or an inability to listen? What else is at the root of this kind of self-centeredness?
It’s not okay to be cavalier about a voting process. What were you studying during history/civics class? Why abdicate responsibility?
Ignoring voting process fundamentals could cause America to lose its way. It’s not okay. Let’s make all voting voices heard.